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Myanmar Disinvited From Cambodia’s ASEAN Meeting

SIEM REAP, Cambodia—Myanmar’s military-appointed defense minister has had his invitation revoked by host Cambodia for a meeting of Southeast Asian defense chiefs, a senior US defense official said. Efforts to diplomatically isolate the military government that came to power in last year’s coup.

The move will help Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin avoid clash awkwardness Gen. Mya Tun OoThe military junta’s appearance at the ASEAN meeting comes just days after Indonesian officials accused the military junta of exacerbating the crisis in the war-torn country. This is also a subtle change for Cambodia, which has historically shielded countries such as China and Myanmar from criticism at her ASEAN summit.

“Until we see Myanmar actually fulfilling the promises it has made to other countries in the region to bring about a peaceful solution to the violence that is going on there, they will go to ministerial level at these kinds of meetings. They won’t show up,” he said on condition of anonymity based on ground rules set by the U.S. Department of Defense. “This is a step taken by ASEAN countries … taking a principled stance on the fact that what is happening in Myanmar is unacceptable and cannot be business as usual.”

SIEM REAP, Cambodia—Myanmar’s military-appointed defense minister has had his invitation revoked by host Cambodia for a meeting of Southeast Asian defense chiefs, a senior US defense official said. Efforts to diplomatically isolate the military government that came to power in last year’s coup.

The move will help Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin avoid clash awkwardness Gen. Mya Tun OoThe military junta’s appearance at the ASEAN meeting comes just days after Indonesian officials accused the military junta of exacerbating the crisis in the war-torn country. This is a subtle change even for Cambodia, which has historically shielded countries such as China and Myanmar from criticism at the ASEAN summit.

“Until we see Myanmar actually fulfilling the promises it has made to other countries in the region to bring about a peaceful solution to the violence that is going on there, they will go to ministerial level at these kinds of meetings. They won’t show up,” he said on condition of anonymity based on ground rules set by the U.S. Department of Defense. “This is a step taken by ASEAN countries … taking a principled stance on the fact that what is happening in Myanmar is unacceptable and cannot be business as usual.”

Another senior U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential diplomatic talks.

Cambodia’s decision to reject Myanmar’s invitation came after Indonesian President Joko Widodo first called for the military to remain in power. forbidden From major ASEAN events. This is also a reversal for the Cambodian government, which has long leaned toward China and has insisted on including the military government in a defense conference earlier this year. At its summit in Cambodia earlier this month, ASEAN took concrete steps to exclude all military government ministers from bloc meetings despite the worsening situation on the ground in Myanmar. It was criticized for not

“It’s a bit of naming and shaming that to some extent denies the legitimacy of the military regime,” said Ian Chong, an associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore. “So there is some pressure, but probably not enough to actually change behavior.”

ASEAN has previously banned the junta’s top diplomat, Wunna Maung Lwin, from two meetings earlier this year and canceled an invitation for junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to meet in 2021 and 2022. The United States has largely relied on ASEAN, which usually makes decisions based on consensus, to lead peace talks in Myanmar.blocks are called 5 point consensus It calls for an end to violence and peace talks.

US appears to hope ASEAN is cold to junta, but some experts are trying to show that the regional bloc is not reckless in risky diplomacy I believe. “The uninvitation appears to be aimed at showing that ASEAN is willing to do more with Myanmar and is not completely incapable of action,” Chong said.

The desire has increased as violence by the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, has intensified in recent months as the military government tightens its grip on its own people. A month after the military burned down tens of thousands of homes across the country, he killed 11 children in September when a military helicopter opened fire on a school in the pro-resistance Sagaing district. The military government also appears to be stepping up executions of political opponents, including deposed civilian leader Aung San Su. of the key Party. Security forces have now killed well over 2,000 people since the military came to power last year.

Myanmar’s Government of National Unity, a group of leaders and parliamentarians elected in the wake of the February 2021 coup, was recognized by the European Parliament as the country’s legitimate government, but has cast a glimmer of light on the ASEAN stalemate. I immediately saw the possibility of winning. “Further evidence of the military regime’s lack of legitimacy within his ASEAN,” said the government-in-exile’s foreign minister, Zin Mar Aung. Said in a statement on Twitter.

However, it is not clear whether Cambodia’s snub has spread as far as some people hope. Aaron Connery, director of research at the International Institute for Strategic Studies on Southeast Asian Politics and Foreign Policy, said Cambodians were criticizing Myanmar’s military junta at the conference, knowing that it was likely that the junta would ghost them. said it may have proposed lower-level representatives to invitation. The military government is still invited to her ASEAN ministerial meeting on paper, but has to sit in a corner.

“This is exactly how ASEAN does business,” Mr Connelly said. “You stand for principle at the expense of practice.” Among Myanmar’s watchers, uninvited military general Mya Tun Oo is the most likely candidate to push the country’s struggling army toward reform. was seen to be. “Hope is probably empty, but that’s kind of the dynamic there,” Connelly added.

At the two-day summit in Siem Reap, US Secretary of Defense Austin will meet with defense ministers from all members of the ASEAN bloc except Myanmar. This was followed by President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Brinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the G20 meeting in Indonesia, while Vice President Kamala Harris flew back and forth across the region. Just one week later. It’s also expected to become a forum for high-stakes diplomacy, as the Pentagon studies the details of Austin’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the ASEAN ministerial meeting. Meeting for the first time in half a year.

But while Indonesia, which is supposed to take over the reins of the ASEAN bloc from Cambodia, lacks overall consensus within the bloc to indefinitely blacklist Myanmar’s military junta, former officials said this He believes the move will help deny the legitimacy it so desperately needs in the international community.Stage.

Scott Marciel, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar until 2020, said, “Anything that robs the junta of its legitimacy will help. I don’t think it will change the junta’s behavior in the short term, but it will add pressure.” ‘ said.

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